Transport of lithium-ion batteries – a continuous threat

Insurers UK P&I Club and TT Club have teamed up with scientific consultants, Brookes Bell, and issued a whitepaper highlighting the continuing safety threat created by the transportation of lithium-ion batteries.

The publishing of a whitepaper by insurance providers UK P&I Club along with its fellow Thomas Miller managed business, TT Club, and technical and scientific consultancy, Brookes Bell brings greater awareness of the dangers inherent in the transport of lithium-ion batteries, particularly by sea. The increased demand for ‘green power’ for a wide range of portable devices such as mobile phones, mobility aids and recreation, manufacturing and power storage, through to larger products, such as electric vehicles will undoubtedly result in the production and transport of these batteries rising exponentially in the coming years.

Recently, serious and sometimes catastrophic incidents involving lithium-ion batteries have become more commonplace, with fires reported in all modes of transport – ocean, air and land -- as well as in warehouses and where such consignments are at rest.

The whitepaper outlines many of the numerous challenges facing the transport industry and raises awareness of the potentially catastrophic situation that can be caused by battery failure, thus in part correcting the widely held perception in the maritime community that risks in the supply chain of such products are relatively small.

As Loss Prevention Director of the UK P&I Club, Stuart Edmonston is no stranger to the damage ship fires can cause, “The consequences of battery failure and the resultant thermal runaway must be clearly understood and the correct procedures for handling them adhered to throughout their lifespan. The dangers can exist no matter the status of the battery; charged, semi-charged, used, second-hand or scrap, and whether present in devices and vehicles or packaged separately.”

Commenting on the need for rapid recognition of the risks, Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT’s Risk Management Director said, “Recently, serious and sometimes catastrophic incidents involving lithium-ion batteries have become more commonplace, with fires reported in all modes of transport – ocean, air and land -- as well as in warehouses and where such consignments are at rest."

The full whitepaper is available to download below.

Stuart Edmonston

Loss Prevention Director

Peregrine Storrs-Fox

Risk Management Director

Date01/11/2022